Teachers take different paths to the classroom through innovative programs
Erin Jones had accomplished plenty before she even started at PLU. Raised
in the Netherlands, she had a bachelors degree from Bryn Mawr College,
fluency in four languages and a tryout with the WNBA. Her experience included
two years substitute teaching and three years teaching at a private school
But she didnt have a teaching degree or certification in Washington.
When she was looking to take that step, she found PLUs
Alternative Routes to Certification program a perfect fit. It provides
a shorter route for experienced people to become teachers. The program is
mostly hands onmore teaching, less coursework.
Erin Jones says PLU's Alternative Routes to Education program provided the education and experience she needed to earn her teaching certificate.
"I couldnt afford schooling without a grant, and I didnt want to start from scratch," Jones said. She got a grant, and didnt miss a beat in her education.
Jones, like each teacher candidate in the program, spends a majority of her
time in the classroom, working alongside a trained mentor. She has been working
with seventh-grade teacher Justine Johnson at Tacomas Jason Lee Middle
School. Jones said Johnson has been an excellent mentor, and their similar
teaching styles make for a seamless working relationship.
"Im not just getting certification, but a wonderful learning experience,"
Shes one of 44 students enrolled in programs at PLU through a $2 million grant awarded to a consortia of school districts and higher education institutions last year by the Professional Educator Standards Board. The board aims to find new ways to recruit quality teachers, especially for spots that are difficult to fill.
PLUs School of Educationas part of a
partnership with five local school districts and Green River Community Collegehopes
to help fill that void. The program isnt simply a "fast track"
to certification, but a different route, designed for career changers who
bring experience with them into their teacher preparation.
"It really opened the flood gates to people who wanted certification,
but didnt want to start back at square one in the classroom," said
Lynn Beck, School of Education dean. "A program that is experience-based
rather than course-based is quite unique."
The alternative routes are available to: Instructional aides or other para-educators with associates degrees seeking certification in special education or English as a second language; classified school staff with college degrees seeking certification in shortage areas such as math and science; and people with baccalaureate degrees who are not employed in a school district or who hold emergency substitute certificates.
Jones is in Route III, a program designed for individuals with bachelors
degrees. She was allowed to substitute teach and teach at a private school
in Indiana, but Washington has stricter requirements.
Along with their in-school experience, participants meet every Saturday during
the semester to both learn new skills and talk about what they learned from
their own classrooms. Students vary in age and job experiences.
"The program is very diverse," Jones said. "It all has given
me a different perspective on education." Jones has also been pleased
with the training given by PLU teachers.
"Weve learned a lot about multicultural learning, special education, and what its like to teach a variety of students."